Did you know that the hospitality industry is one of the world's biggest carbon emitters? According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, global carbon emissions have increased by almost 50% since 1990. Every decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the last. Our planet is in crisis, and only by working together and encouraging change on a large scale can we mend it.
Hotels need to focus on sustainability and renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint. There are many ways for hotels to reduce their carbon emissions, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and reducing food waste.
Why is it Important for Hotels to Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?
The hospitality industry is responsible for a large carbon footprint due to the high energy consumption of hotels. In fact, if current trends continue and hotels don't use renewable energy sources, by 2035 global greenhouse gas emissions from tourism will be 130% higher than they are now, according to the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. This is a significant amount of carbon emissions, and hotels need to do their part in reducing them. The fight against global warming and pollution needs to happen on a large scale, and the hospitality industry can no longer ignore its environmental impact. Climate change is happening on our watches.
Hotels can save money by going green. Not only is it essential to reduce your carbon footprint for the environment, but it can also save you money. Reducing energy consumption can lead to significant cost savings for hotels. A study by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that hotels that invested in energy-saving practices saved an average of $500 per room each year. These cost savings can be used to reinvest in more sustainable practices or to improve the hotel's bottom line.
Potential guests are looking for hotels to be eco-friendly and green. 83% of global travelers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. The people have spoken, and it's time for the industry to listen to save the environment and make their guests happy.
How Can Hotels Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?
There are many ways for hotels to reduce their carbon footprint. Hotel chains globally can implement some or all of these changes to better fight the release of carbon dioxide and global carbon emissions. Many chains are looking to make the change today, and with proper planning, any hotel can be a champion for the environment. Hotels can make the following changes:
Improving energy efficiency: This can be done by using energy-efficient appliances, retrofitting hotel rooms with energy-saving features, and using solar panels to heat water. Hotels can use their design to improve energy efficiency.
The energy use is dramatically lowered when the building has a light-colored roof.
Consider planting more shade trees around your property; adding trees will improve the property's design and provide much-needed shade and reduce the need for cooling systems.
All appliances, including washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioning, should be converted to energy-efficient models.
LED lightbulbs use 75% less energy than their traditional counterparts and can significantly impact energy efficiency.
Install Water Refill Stations On-Site: Save on carbon emissions and plastic waste by installing water fill stations throughout your property. This encourages the use of reusable bottles and provides guests with the peace of mind that your property has environmentally friendly practices. As more guests bring their own water bottles to reuse, it's an excellent option for them to have.
Use Local Produce: Buying locally grown foods reduces carbon emissions from transportation and supports the local economy. An authentic experience is not only more enjoyable for guests, but it also requires less energy to maintain. This applies to everything from the furniture and decorations to menus made with fresh ingredients. Guests are looking for a way to connect to their destination and providing locally sourced food is one way to reduce carbon footprints and help to market to certain travelers.
Reducing food waste: According to Eco-Business, nearly 25% of all food that comes into a hotel is wasted. It's vital for hotels to reduce food waste to lower their carbon emissions. This can be done by composting food waste, donating surplus food to local charities, or working with suppliers to reduce the amount of food wasted before it even arrives at the hotel.
Another way to reduce food waste is by converting it to biogas - a process in which waste is converted into natural gas to use for other purposes. Biogas can replace natural gas in many applications, including cooking, heating, steam production, electrical generation, vehicular fuel, and pipeline gas.
Purchasing carbon offsets: This can be done by investing in carbon-reducing projects, such as planting trees or investing in clean energy. Carbon offsets can offset the carbon emissions of hotel guests, employees, or business operations.
Offer Eco-Friendly Transportation: Many guests want to be able to rent bicycles or electric vehicles while on vacation. Provide golf carts for guests to use when on your property. This helps reduce carbon emissions from transportation and is a great way for guests to explore the local area while being eco-friendly.
Eliminate Single-Use Plastics: While it may seem daunting to think about eliminating all single-use plastic, it's worth it. When you consider that single-use plastic accounts for more than 40% of all plastic waste in landfills and that hotels provide single-use plastic toiletries, it's no wonder there's a need for serious reform.
Another source of plastic waste is straws. It's estimated that 500 million straws are used daily in the United States alone. That's a lot of plastic waste that can easily be eliminated by offering guests paper or metal straws or simply not providing straws at all.
Get rid of plastic bottles; if Marriott can commit to eliminating single-use plastics to reach net-zero, then any hotel chain can.
Reduce energy consumption: This can be done by turning off lights when not in use, unplugging electronics when they're not used, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and using air conditioning sparingly. Additionally, install smart thermostats to save on energy usage. Use smart light features to turn off the lights when a guest leaves automatically. There are many ways to automate the process of reducing energy consumption.
Install solar panels: Solar panels can help offset a hotel's carbon footprint and provide renewable energy. This is an excellent way for hotels to reduce their carbon emissions and become more sustainable.
Go Paperless: This can be done by using keycards instead of paper keys, sending electronic bills and receipts instead of paper ones, and using digital signage. Better yet, create an app that handles all aspects of checking in and out. This isn't only environmentally friendly; it's better for the guest as well.
Protect Local Ecosystems: Planting native plants, creating a habitat for local wildlife, and using on-site water filtering and treatment are all effective at detoxifying polluted soil. Using these methods, you can help reduce your hotel's carbon footprint while also protecting local ecosystems.
Sustainable hospitality is no longer a trend - it's a necessity. The pandemic has brought about a shift in how we view travel and its impact on the planet. Hoteliers need to take action to reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices.
The hotel industry has a responsibility to lead the way in sustainability and be an example for other businesses to follow. There's no excuse not to take action with so many options available. Implementing some of these initiatives will not only help reduce the carbon footprint of your hotel, but it will also save you money in the long run.
What are some ways your hotel works to reduce its carbon footprint? Share in the comments below.